Senate Democrats want to pass a new “voting rights” bill that would limit laws requiring voter identification and produce a federal framework for voting.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been skeptical of such a bill, as he is wary of a federal takeover of voter laws. Voting law has traditionally been a province of states, not the federal government.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced the new bill on Thursday, and he is planning a vote on it for next week.
One positive sign for Republicans is Schumer saying that if Republicans have ideas “on how to improve the legislation, we are prepared to hear them, debate them, and if they are in line with the goals of the legislation, include them in the bill.”
Voter identification laws, though, are critical to maintaining a fair voting system.
The Bill of Rights Institute identifies several reasons that voting identification procedures by the states are a good idea:
“In general, it is a good idea to verify a voter’s identity in order to ensure a one-vote-per-person system.
“There are many cases in which people registered in multiple states vote multiple times.
“There are many cases in which deceased registered voters cast a ballot-someone is fraudulently claiming to be the deceased voter.
“Non-citizens vote in large numbers, though they do not possess the legal right to do so.”
Voting identification laws are a fundamental way that states can use to require free and democratic elections.
Furthermore, as states have traditionally been in charge of elections, this latest bill represents an attempt at federal overreach.
Our federalist system depends on having a certain balance of power between the federal government and the state governments, which this bill threatens to make worse.
The balance of power has long been eroded by increasing the power of the federal government, and this bill represents another step backward in the balance of power.
There is a strong chance that this voting rights bill will fail, as there is a 50-50 party division in the Senate and 60 votes are required to overcome a filibuster.
Some Democrats contend that new voting rights laws in Texas and other states are a return to Jim Crow-era laws. However, this new bill in the Senate would prevent the kind of good voter identification laws that are needed in this country.
Let us hope that the Senate Republicans do not allow this bill to pass. It would be a step backward and a sign of a dangerous federal government becoming even more powerful.
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